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Characterization of the biomechanical properties of T4 pili expressed by Streptococcus pneumoniae-a comparison between helix-like and open coil-like pili

Abstract : Bacterial adhesion organelles, known as fimbria or pili, are expressed by gram-positive as well as gram-negative bacteria families. These appendages play a key role in the first steps of the invasion and infection processes, and they therefore provide bacteria with pathogenic abilities. To improve the knowledge of pili-mediated bacterial adhesion to host cells and how these pili behave under the presence of an external force, we first characterize, using force measuring optical tweezers, open coil-like T4 pili expressed by gram-positive Streptococcus pneumoniae with respect to their biomechanical properties. It is shown that their elongation behavior can be well described by the worm-like chain model and that they possess a large degree of flexibility. Their properties are then compared with those of helix-like pili expressed by gram-negative uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), which have different pili architecture. The differences suggest that these two types of pili have distinctly dissimilar mechanisms to adhere and sustain external forces. Helix-like pili expressed by UPEC bacteria adhere to host cells by single adhesins located at the distal end of the pili while their helix-like structures act as shock absorbers to dampen the irregularly shear forces induced by urine flow and to increase the cooperativity of the pili ensemble, whereas open coil-like pili expressed by S. pneumoniae adhere to cells by a multitude of adhesins distributed along the pili. It is hypothesized that these two types of pili represent different strategies of adhering to host cells in the presence of external forces. When exposed to significant forces, bacteria expressing helix-like pili remain attached by distributing the external force among a multitude of pili, whereas bacteria expressing open coil-like pili sustain large forces primarily by their multitude of binding adhesins which presumably detach sequentially.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02660562
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Submitted on : Saturday, May 30, 2020 - 8:44:03 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 4:22:31 AM

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Mickaël Castelain, Efstratios Koutris, Magnus Andersson, Krister Wiklund, Oscar Björnham, et al.. Characterization of the biomechanical properties of T4 pili expressed by Streptococcus pneumoniae-a comparison between helix-like and open coil-like pili. ChemPhysChem, Wiley-VCH Verlag, 2009, 10 (9-10), pp.1533-1540. ⟨10.1002/cphc.200900195⟩. ⟨hal-02660562⟩

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